Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Making Salsa

On Thursday of last week, we picked up 25 lbs of tomatoes from a farmer at the market and used some to make salsa.

We made two batches, 11 pints in all. The rest of the tomatoes are going to become juice. Canning season has begun :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Garden/ Chicken Update June 2011

I can hardly believe it! My very small garden is still alive and is producing veggies!! I know that I am inviting disaster by writing those words, but I can't help it - I'm that excited!! We have tomatoes and cucumbers on the vine and purple hull peas are growing well. The lone strawberry plant that survived the winter is trying valiantly to produce berries. About a month ago, the neighborhood dogs tore out our potato plants (they are why I am cautiously optimistic about the garden). The plants had been growing for about 6 weeks. I assumed that there were no potatoes, but when I dug more compost into the bed, we found a few pounds of new potatoes. Pretty exciting to me :) The fruit trees are doing well. We have an orange and a lemon tree, both which have fruit growing on them. The fig trees have no figs on them this year. Thankfully, we have a another source of figs for this year's preserves.

The chickens are doing really well. We have only one rooster and we've lost a few hens to the dogs, so we have 11 laying hens and 6 new chickens (they are about 3 months old). We get approximately 9 eggs per day, which is plenty for us to use and allows us some to share with our neighbors, friends and family. The new chickens should begin laying around the time the laying flock molts, which is great because then we should be able to keep getting eggs.

Harvested so far this month:
Eggs: 234
Cucumbers: 1
Potatoes: 2 lbs

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Farmer's Market 6-18 & 6-23 - Playing Catch Up

This summer is a blur of visitors and we are enjoying it so much. I think we have visitors scheduled every week but one through the start of school in August. What fun! We are managing to get most of our "groceries" from the farmers market and we are also getting a lot of food put up which makes me happy. I love that our fall and winter meals will include some local foods that we are getting from farmers right now.

Last week we were given lots of squash and we dehydrated a good bit of it along with carrots, peppers, and tomatoes from the market to keep as a soup mix. We plan to add it to a crock pot full of our chicken stock in the winter and enjoy local veggie soup. We also dehydrated lots of tomatoes for snacking (we eat them like chips - yum!!) and for pizzas later, and we made blueberry "raisins". We are over run with peaches and squash this week, so I'm thinking peach leather and more dehydrated squash.

Last week from the market, we got, clockwise from top left: Personal watermelons, a big watermelon (one of the BEST I've ever tasted), blueberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peaches, squash, cucumbers (with reddish brown skins), another cantaloupe, basil, zucchini, carrots and not pictured, milk. We enjoyed lots of it fresh and dehydrated or froze some.

On Thursday, a neighbor came over and brought us the lovely veggies pictured above. The tomatoes and peppers became salsa and the squash is in the dehydrator right now. The cucumbers are being enjoyed with meals.

We've been up to a lot at the little cabin. I'll try to post more soon :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Farmer's Market and Menu Plan

For the last year or so, I have been going to the farmer's market without my older children. It was a nice chance to have some quiet time, plus they had lost interest in a lot of the process of shopping for food and preferred to hang out at home and have some "Dad time". With watermelon coming in to season and me having to shop with the baby, it was either one of them come with me or we have no watermelon . . . so my oldest came with me and, as it turned out, enjoyed himself :)

Most of the above photo contains our farmer's market purchases, though the dairy and seafood (!!!) is not pictured (milk and mozzarella, fresh water prawns and catfish) and the items in the front right corner come from our wonderful neighbor's garden. From top left, clockwise: Cucumber, blackberries, basil (in the baggie), tomatoes, round zucchini, individual sized watermelon, green bell peppers, onions, blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, more onions, garlic and potatoes (in the bowl), squash, cucumbers, banana peppers (all three from our neighbor), and peaches. We also bought another fig tree. When we couple these items with the chicken and beef we have in our freezer from past farmer's markets and a few other items with have stored up, there are many meal options. Here is what I've come up with so far (local items are in bold):

Roasted Veggie Omelet - (eggs from our hens, butter, onions, squash, zucchini) with tomato and cucumber salad.

Pesto Chicken Sandwich on homemade foccacia bread - (basil, olive oil, walnuts, Parmesan cheese; chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella) with cantaloupe

Roasted Chicken, squash/ zucchini pasta (cooked pasta, sauted onions and zucchini or squash, butter, basil, Parmesan cheese), peaches

Stuffed Zucchini (ground beef, onions, butter, squash, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, cheese), blueberries

Burgers, browned potatoes, caramelized onions, watermelon

Spaghetti with meat sauce, bread sticks, steamed broccoli (we can't go without broccoli, even if it is not in season or local - oldest ds loves it), cantaloupe

Stuffed Green Peppers (onions, peppers, some of the prawns, rice, butter, some sort of thickener - probably corn starch - for a binder, cheese), peaches

We are also planning to use some of our peaches and blueberries for smoothies. In addition, we have family coming in today and they are bringing tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini from the garden. We will make salsa for snacking (not enough to can) with some of it (using our peppers and onions and some store bought cilantro). I also envision blueberry smoothies in our future.

It is so exciting to be in the early days of summer with so much available to us from local growers. At the market over the weekend, we were told that plums and figs will soon be available. We love these both for eating fresh and also for preserving. Can't wait!! In addition, we have made arrangements to buy "canner" tomatoes from a farmer so that we can put up salsa, spaghetti sauce and tomato puree. We also have blueberries and blackberries in the freezer that are destined to become syrup this week. I used to put up jam, but we don't really eat much jam here. Syrup, I think, will work better (we've already used up all the peach syrup I made a few weeks ago - we use it on pancakes and waffles, plus we use it in yogurt).

What's on your menu this week?

I am submitting this to Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.